Monday, July 31, 2023

Music Trivia: R

All of these songs have one-word titles that begin with the letter R.  How many can you get?

1.  This late-70s Styx hit was written by Tommy Shaw, but fellow guitarist JY played the guitar solo on it.

2.  This mid-70s Fleetwood Mac song cemented Stevie Nicks' witchy persona.

3.  This late-70s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers hit reached #15 on the Billboard charts and, according to Wikipedia, "is widely regarded as one of Petty's best songs."

4.  This late-90s Collective Soul hit was from their platinum-certified 4th album. 

5.  This early-90s Black Crowes hit is said to be about the war on drugs.

Is Diversity Good For Higher Education Students, Or Not?

link

Sunday, July 30, 2023

How I Spent My Evening With Friends

 

This was after breakfast, an escape room, and axe-throwing with them.  Great day!

Friday, July 28, 2023

Higher Education Priority

Seen on Instagram today:

Controversial thesis:  If the highest paid person in your university or college is the basketball coach or the football coach, then it is not a university, it is a sporting franchise with a side hustle in tertiary education.

Not a controversial thesis here at RotLC.  As I've said plenty of times, let the NFL and NBA fund their own farm teams.

Injustices

One of the worst injustices that currently happens in Western jurisprudence is wrongly convicting someone of a crime and locking them up.  That's why I'm such a fan of The Innocence Project.

Yes, this story happened in Britain, but is it so far-fetched that you cannot see it happening in the USA?

A British man who spent 17 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of rape may owe the U.K. Prison Service thousands of pounds for "board and lodging," the Manchester Evening News reported.

Andy Malkinson, 57, was found guilty in 2003 of raping a woman in Salford, England. This week, a Court of Appeal exonerated him and ruled that DNA evidence proved another man was responsible.

Malkinson is set to receive financial compensation for his wrongful conviction, but the Ministry of Justice can take out a portion of the money and give it to the Prison Service because it provided food and shelter during his stay.

Malkinson said the government implemented the archaic rule after the Prison Service lobbied for the change in the early 2000s.

"The result is that even if you fight tooth and nail and gain compensation, you then have to pay the prison service a large chunk of that for so-called 'board and lodgings', which is so abhorrent to me," Malkinson told BBC 4. "I am sickened by it."

As well he should be.  

The article continues by stating that such payments are determined on a case-by-case basis and he may well pay nothing, but such a law is still an abomination.  When society locks up a person, that person is in "custody"--which means "care", which means society pays for room and board incurred by the incarceration.  What possible legitimate reason could there by for the stupid law that's rubbing salt in Mr. Malkinson's 17-year-old open wound?

Thursday, July 27, 2023

How To Teach Math?

Over at Joanne's blog are two posts about teaching math.  First:

There's no evidence that "trauma-deformed pedagogy" (oops, "informed") helps students learn more, writes Max Eden, an American Enterprise Institute fellow, on Real Clear Education. Yet it's cited in support of California's controversial new math guidelines, which are full of dubious claims

"Trauma informed" means educators take into account the fact that some students have led very difficult lives. But how does that affect teaching math...

The study includes no evidence students learned any math -- or that they "healed," writes Eden.

The examples cited would be a good social studies exercise, but they're crappy math.  Let's continue:

Under the California framework, math teachers are supposed to train students to be change agents, writes Bill Evers of the Independent Institute. "The teacher is supposed to highlight 'connections' between math and 'environmental and social justice,'" perhaps by writing an “opinion piece” or “explanatory text.”

As the previous post explains, research shows that's not an effective way to teach math. We don't want kids to learn math, don't we?

If they can't give you good government, they'll give you "woke" government.  If they can't give you good education, they'll give you "woke" education.

An excerpt from the second post:

"Students who spent more time in class solving practice problems on their own and taking quizzes and tests tended to have higher scores in math," the study found. In English, "teachers who allocated more class time to discussions and group work ended up with higher scorers in that subject."

Teachers in both subjects spent little time lecturing. 

Lifting weights is how you get stronger.  Writing is how you become a better writer.  Speaking a language is how you become better at a foreign language.  Playing an instrument is how you get better at playing an instrument.  It's funny that only in math do we throw such principles out, and we do it in the name of a "social justice" that accomplishes exactly the opposite of what its proponents claim they want.

Cynical Planned Obsolesence?

My school has hundreds upon hundreds of Chromebooks:

Thousands of Chromebooks used in schools are being sent to the recycling bin due to built-in software "death dates." These inexpensive computers, which became popular during the pandemic for digital learning, have a software expiration date set three to six years after their release.

Despite functioning hardware, expired Chromebooks no longer receive necessary software updates, rendering them useless for basic web browsing and applications. The California Public Interest Research Group reported that global Chromebook sales were nearly 300% higher in 2020 compared to the previous year. However, thousands of these laptops have already expired, with more reaching their death dates each year.

School districts are left with the burden of disposing of these devices and purchasing new ones. Google claims that the expiration dates are necessary because older devices cannot support the required software updates for security and stability. However, critics argue that the practice is wasteful and costly. CALPIRG estimates that doubling the life of Chromebooks sold in California in 2020 alone could save the state's schools $225 million.

Textbooks don't expire after 3 years. 

Incidentally, I have a very old personal Windows laptop that I'd like to repurpose as a Chromebook; the hardware is fine but it's running on Windows Vista (!), and a new streamlined OS would make this laptop useful again.  I looked into the Cloudready software but my generic laptop was not on the list of compatible devices.  Chrome OS Flex needs more RAM than this laptop has, so this laptop will continue to sit in the closet until I can find a way to breath some life into it.

Update:  I've tried Zorin OS, but despite my best efforts in the BIOS, I cannot get the laptop to boot from the flash drive that was created and from which I would install Zorin OS.  Grrr.

Another Way To Thwart The Will Of The Voters

I have a friend who seems to be the lone conservative voice on a school board.  How easy it would be for the others to get rid of her if such a law were to go into effect:

A newly proposed measure facing the California Senate would bar school boards from adopting any policy that "contradicts any existing law requiring a school district to have inclusive policies, practices, and curriculum" and would allow for the removal of a school board member who either helps adopt such policies or who "prevents the governing board from conducting its business."

Under the measure, the governing board of a school district could censure or remove a member found to have violated one of these two rules by a two-thirds vote of the board in which the individual who is subject to the vote would not be allowed to vote in. 

I have no doubt that disagreeing about any measure would be considered preventing "the governing board from conducting its business." 

Assemblymember Bill Essayli, R–Woodcrest, who wrote AB 1314, the bill on which the Chino Valley policy was modeled and is hoping to replicate the Chino Valley policy across the state, said, "The board already cannot violate existing laws. This is an intimidation tactic to prevent board members from taking positions the opposition might attack as discriminatory."

Essayli, a former federal prosecutor, also noted the state Constitution already has a process for removing elected officials – the recall – and that the legislature cannot override the state constitution. 

Under one-party rule here in the DPRK, no deviation from the approved orthodoxy is tolerated.

Monday, July 24, 2023

I Could Bend The Rules For This One

Usually I have a policy of not voting for squids.  The navy has a very different culture than what I'm used to, and in general I'd rather vote for someone who isn't navy over one who is.

This guy, though, would get my vote if I lived in his state:

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Whose Kids?

There's a definite leftward slant in this story, which isn't surprising since it comes from Oakland:

State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond was told to leave a school district meeting in Southern California after expressing his opposition to a policy that requires administrators to inform parents if their child identifies as transgender.

Thurmond was escorted out of the meeting held by the Chino Valley Unified School District when he exceeded his allotted one-minute speaking time by a second or two. 

He used his time to voice concerns about the policy, stating that it would violate the privacy rights of students. 

The policy requires schools to notify parents in writing within three days after their child identifies as transgender, is involved in violence or talks about suicide. Schools must also now notify parents if their child seeks to change their name or pronouns or asks for access to gender-based sports, bathrooms or changing rooms that do not match their assigned gender at birth.

Despite Thurmond's objections, the Chino School Board ultimately voted to approve the policy, which mandates schools to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender, seeks a name or pronoun change, or requests access to gender-based facilities that do not correspond with their assigned gender at birth.

Thurmond's dramatic exit and the controversial vote come at a time when liberals and conservatives are vying for power – and how to shape young minds – at school districts throughout the state of California. 

That's the rub right there.  Conservatives aren't trying to use schools "to shape young minds", we expect parents to do that.  Conservatives want to provide an education, not an indoctrination.

They're their parents' children, they're only our students.

Believing In "Science"

More on California's Recently Adopted Math Framework

Anyone who truly wants traditionally-underperforming students to succeed, and doesn't really want them to fail for their own political benefit, knows that the ideas contained in the new framework are a disaster, and it's not just those of us on the political right saying so:

Despite collapsing math scores, the California Board of Education voted to adopt a new "equity'" and "social justice" focused math education framework that education experts from across the political spectrum warn will increase achievement gaps and decrease learning among lower income and minority students.

Two out of three California students now fail to meet basic state math standards set in 2013. California spends over $20,000 per K-12 student, placing it among the top states for per-pupil spending even though its students rank 30th in math, according to national math SAT scores from the College Board.

Citing these differences, the framework focuses on three main changes to improve "equitable" math outcomes: "an assets-based approach to instruction; active student engagement through investigation and connection; and instruction that centers cultural and personal relevance, reflecting California's diverse students." 

As I've stated before on this blog about so-called personal relevance:

According to one Kieran Egan, “Bertrand Russell, after his first disastrous experiment in organizing a school, observed that the first task of education is to destroy the tyranny of the local and immediate over the child’s imagination."

Russell is correct. The purpose of education is to get a child to see what's beyond his own nose.  

But let's continue with the linked article:

Additionally, the framework concluded that "five important components of classroom instruction that can meet the needs of students who are diverse in so many ways: 1) plan teaching around big ideas; 2) use open, engaging tasks; 3) teach towards social justice; 4) invite student questions and conjectures; 5) prioritize reasoning and justification." 

I'll be happy to "teach towards social justice", but I doubt what I teach would be what the framework's authors and promoters would want. 

I'll be blunt.  As Instapundit has said many times:  If they can't give you good government, they'll give you "woke" government.  I'll add to that:  If they can't give you good education, they'll give you "woke" education.  And that's exactly what California is dishing up here.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

What Side Would You Be On?

Kamala Harris to Lie About Florida's Social Studies Standards

I know this seems shocking and unbelievable, but Kamala Harris is going to lie about Florida's academic standards in an effort to score some political points.  No, she's not just operating under a different interpretation of those standards, she's going to lie, openly and brazenly:

NBC reports that Kamala Harris intends to visit Florida today to criticize its new school curriculum:

In remarks Thursday, Harris blasted efforts in some states to ban books and “push forward revisionist history.”

“Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” she said at a convention for the traditionally Black sorority Delta Sigma Theta Inc. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it.”

This is a brazen lie. It’s an astonishing lie. It’s an evil lie. It is so untrue — so deliberately and cynically misleading — that, in a sensible political culture, Harris would be obligated to issue an apology. Instead, NBC confirms that she will repeat the lie today during a speech in Jacksonville.

I have been trying to work out how best to illustrate the sheer scale of Harris’s falsehood, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to achieve it is to list in one place all the relevant parts of the course about which she is complaining. So, below, I have copied and pasted every single reference to slavery, slaves, abolitionism, civil rights, and African Americans that is in the document. For those interested, the full curriculum (along with the curriculum for the teaching of the Holocaust) is here.

That list of references to "slavery, slaves, abolitionism, civil rights, and African Americans that is in the document" is long and extensive, and I encourage you to read it at the end of the linked article.  The entire Florida document is linked in the above snippet.

As for the impetus for Harris' remarks, they seem to revolve around standard SS.68.AA.2.3:

Examine the various duties and trades performed by slaves (e.g., agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation).
Benchmark Clarifications:
Clarification 1: Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.

Slaves were sometimes allowed to earn their own money and even buy their freedom.  It's true, so why is that controversial?  Answer:  it's not.  Harris' (and her compatriots') outrage is entirely ginned up, twisting the meaning of one sentence in the standards so as to score some political points. 

If you have to lie to score political points, you're not doing a very good job.

Update, 7/24/23It's not just me saying so:

Dr. William B. Allen , a longtime academic, former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and a member of Florida’s African American History Standards Workgroup called claims made by Vice President Kamala Harris in highly-publicized remarks last week “categorically false"...

Asked how he would respond to critics of the new standards, Allen replied that “the only criticism I’ve encountered so far is a single one that was articulated by the vice president, and which was an error. As I stated in my response to the vice president, it was categorically false. It was never said that slavery was beneficial to Africans.”

Update #2, 8/1/23Shocking, I know:

MAKING AN OFFER SHE CAN’T ACCEPT: DeSantis invites Kamala to meet as early as Wednesday unless she has “a trip to the southern border planned that day.”

“I am prepared to meet as early as Wednesday of this week, but of course want to be deferential to your busy schedule should you already have a trip to the southern border planned for that day,” DeSantis wrote in the letter. “Please let me know as soon as possible. What an example we could set for the nation – a serious conversation on the substance of an important issue! I hope you’re feeling up to it.”

Spoiler alert: She’s not.

UPDATE: Called it.

Pictures of Places

click to embiggen the pictures

San Francisco:



The Farallons:



I'd heard that these islands existed, but I'd never seen them before July 10th--and probably never will again.

Juneau, AK:




Skagway, AK



Icy Strait Point:



Tracy Arm and the glacier:



Prince Rupert, BC:



And my final view of San Francisco and the ship as we crossed the SF Bay Bridge on the way home:

Friday, July 21, 2023

Eagles

On this trip I saw humpback whales, what I think was a sea lion (the video is clear, I just don't know sea animals very well), and eagles; I did not see any orcas or bears.  Bummer on that last part.

Here are some pictures of eagles:



These were taken outside Hoonah, Alaska, the 3rd one when I was on a kayaking tour.  Click on the pictures to embiggen them.

These two eagles were in Prince Rupert, British Columbia:


Also in Prince Rupert I saw a flight of 4 eagles, seemingly playing over the water.  It was a beauty to behold.

Which Way Is Cambodia's New Leader Going To Go?

Cambodia doesn't have a long history of peaceful democratic-style government, will their new leader offer a new start?

Hun Sen has been Cambodia’s autocratic prime minister for nearly four decades, during which the opposition has been stifled and the country has grown increasingly close to China.

With his Cambodian People’s Party virtually guaranteed another landslide victory in this Sunday’s election, it’s hard to imagine dramatic change on the horizon. But the 70-year-old former communist Khmer Rouge fighter and Asia's longest-serving leader says he is ready to hand the premiership to his oldest son, Hun Manet, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who heads the country's army...

Many in the crowd spoke of Hun Manet's education — his bachelor's at West Point being followed by a master's at New York University and a doctorate in economics from Britain's Bristol University.

His background has given rise to hope from some in the West that he might bring political change, but it will still take work to regain influence in the Southeast Asian country of 16.5 million, given China's strategic and economic importance, said John Bradford, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

“A Cambodia led by Hun Manet might very well be a stronger U.S. ally, but the U.S.-Cambodia relationship can only thrive if it is built on strong fundamentals of common benefit and mutual respect,” Bradford said. “U.S. diplomats should focus on these things.”

Let's hope for positive change.

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

The foolish idea that teaching kids less math will advance "equity" has spread from California, which has adopted watered-down guidelines that call for delaying algebra, writes Noah Smith. "Cambridge, Massachusetts recently removed algebra and all advanced math from its junior high schools," also citing "equity."

"Progressive" educators will never admit they believe some students just aren't smart enough to learn algebra, Smith writes. But it's "impossible to avoid the conclusion that the idea is to make all kids equal by making them equally unable to learn."

People in the average IQ band or higher can learn algebra.  Those who are well below average perhaps are unable to understand algebra's abstractions--but we in the schools shouldn't toss them aside as unteachable.  We should teach them something different, and not pretend we're preparing them to attend a university.

Bringing everyone down to the lowest level is the end result of "equity".  We should do better than that.

Update:  While I was gone, California approved its controversial math framework that helps ensure a race to the bottom:

The California State Board of Education voted to adopt a new—and much-debated—math framework on Wednesday, concluding a years-long process that involved three drafts, prompted hundreds of suggested revisions, and reignited decades-old arguments over the purpose of math education and the meaning of equity.

The 1,000-page framework aims to put meaning-making at the center of the math classroom, promoting a focus on problem-solving and applying math knowledge to real-world situations. It also encourages teachers to make math culturally relevant and accessible for all students, especially students of color who have been traditionally marginalized in the subject.

“The United States has not been teaching math effectively or equitably. We are one of the lower-achieving countries … and California is below the national average in its achievement in mathematics,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the California State Board of Education, during the board’s meeting on Wednesday. “This is an area of great need, and change is imperative. The same old, same old will not get us to a new place.”

Here are all my posts referencing Darling-Hammond, stretching back almost 15 years.

Should you ever wonder why I question if I'll make it 4 more years till retirement, this is why.

Update #2More:

One crucial section of the framework emphasizes teaching “for equity and engagement” and encourages math educators to adopt a perspective of “teaching toward social justice.” The CDE and SBE suggest that cultivating “culturally responsive” lessons, which highlight the contributions of historically marginalized individuals to mathematics, can help accomplish this goal. The guidance further advocates for avoiding a single-minded focus on one way of thinking or one correct answer.

Critics argue that the proposed framework does not prioritize academic achievement. Angela Morabito, a spokesperson for the Defense of Freedom Institute (DFI), stated, “Despite what the proponents of this plan might say, it’s not really designed to boost academic achievement. It’s designed to further a progressive goal that exists in the minds of adults… The math framework really does show misplaced priorities.”

The CDE and SBE acknowledge that math proficiency has been waning across the state, with less than one third of students meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations during the 2021-22 academic year. Data provided by the departments reveals widening achievement gaps, with math proficiency among Black students more than 30 percentage points below that of their White counterparts.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

It Would Be Nice, But...

Sure, I'd love 50% more pay in retirement, but the offer is not enough to convince me to work 3 more years than I'm currently planning to:

Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, introduced Assembly Bill 938, a measure that would establish state funding targets to raise teacher and school employee salaries by 50 percent by 2030. This measure seeks to close the existing wage gap between teachers and similarly educated college graduates in other fields. The bill is supported by the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), California Teachers Association (CTA), and the California School Employees Association (CSEA), among others. It is set for a hearing in the Assembly Education Committee today.

Specifically, AB 938 would create state Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funding targets over a seven-year period, with the specific intent of increasing school-site staff salaries by 50 percent by 2030. The bill would establish targets for the state LCFF base grant to be increased by 50 percent by fiscal year 2030-31, while requiring school districts to report their progress in meeting the 50 percent increase in salaries over a seven-year period.

“We need to pay our teachers and essential school staff what they deserve,” said Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi. “Schools across the state are facing a workforce shortage, with many teachers and school employees unable to afford to live in the communities they work in. Moreover, there is a growing wage gap between teachers and comparable college graduates in other fields. That is why I introduced AB 938, to set the goal of giving teachers and staff a 50 percent pay raise by 2030, to not only pay them what they deserve, but also to get more young people to aspire to become educators.”

My retirement pay will be based on my highest annual salary as a teacher.

Leaving San Francisco

After hearing, then watching the remainder of, a smash-and-grab in San Francisco, maybe leaving was a good idea even if I didn't have this view of the City and the bridge:


I took video going under the Golden Gate Bridge but it's over 300 MB so I can't post it yet....

Update:  Try this link for video :-)

Home!

It was a great 10-day Alaska cruise out of San Francisco, just about everything went off without a hitch.  I'll endeavor to post some pictures tonight, gotta start unpacking and sorting laundry now....

The Plan Is To Be Home Tonight

The hint I gave:  Carnival Miracle.

I first saw this ship on my cruise to Alaska in 2014:

I took this picture in Skagway.

Two years later, I sailed on Carnival Miracle on a Mexican Riviera cruise:

I took this picture in Cabo San Lucas.

Assuming all has gone to plan, I boarded Carnival Miracle and left the Port of San Francisco on July 10th and sailed up to Alaska; as of the time I've scheduled this to post, we should be docking back in SF.

I will endeavor to post some trip pictures soon.  (Remember, I'm typing this before the cruise) I hope to get some "postable" video sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Blogging Hiatus

I'm going to take a little break from blogging, will be back in less than 2 weeks.

Here's a riddle as to why:  immediately prior to Lent, a wheelchair-bound person could again walk.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Stuck In San Francisco For 3(?) Days

Have you heard about the cruise ship that was damaged when it slammed into the dock in San Francisco on Thursday?  It was supposed to depart that afternoon for a 10-day cruise to Alaska, but was not allowed by the Coast Guard to leave the port because of damage it sustained.  Here's the latest from KTVU in Oakland:

The Ruby Princess cruise ship docked at Pier 27 in San Francisco is ready to set sail with 579 fewer passengers.

The cruise line announced the ship will set sea at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for a 7-day Alaska voyage after getting the green light from the United States Coast Guard. The repairs were reported complete and it passed inspection and certification.

Originally there were 3,256 passengers going on the cruise, but the cruise line said there are now 2,677 guests on the ship. The crew number remained the same at 1,161.

Guests had the option to cancel their cruise with a 100% refund, and also receive a 50% credit for a future trip. Passengers who chose to continue their trip on the Ruby Princess will receive a 75% refund, and a 75% credit for a future voyage.

The ship had smacked into the pier Thursday morning causing a gash in its underside. Crews worked throughout the weekend to repair the hole ahead of Sunday's departure.

The ship will stop in Ketchikan on July 12 and Prince Rupert on July 13, returning to San Francisco on July 16.

It was originally scheduled for a 10-day voyage, but that was cut short due to the damage.

The cause of the initial crash remains under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard.

You don't often think that something like that would happen in the United States, but it did. The ship is scheduled to leave port in less than 20 minutes as I type this; if you're interested in keeping track of its location I found this web site.

BTW, I'd totally take the 75% refund and a 75% credit on a future cruise.  Why would you get off the ship and go home a week early?

Update:  It left later than 2:30, but it's on its way.

Saturday, July 08, 2023

So-called Data Science Classes in High School

I couldn't even decide what to excerpt; Joanne did such an amazing job on this post, just read the whole thing.

BLUF:  high school "data science" classes will not prepare students to succeed in STEM courses at a university.

My commentary:  it's just another way to lower standards, no doubt in the name of racial "equity" or some crap.

Teacher Credentialing Requirements

Expecting people to work for 9-10 months, even part time, for no pay at all, is an injustice that should be corrected:

A California bill proposes that student teachers get paid for the mandatory hours they need to work to obtain a teaching credential.

Currently, California teachers need to complete 600 hours of unpaid student teaching to earn their credentials, according to California’s Commission on Teaching Credentials. The requirement has been considered a roadblock for teacher candidates who can’t afford to work for free while still being responsible for paying school and living expenses, such as tuition, books and housing. 

I couldn't have done it.  I went through an "alternative" credentialing program, where I was an paid "intern" for the 2 years of my program; I would teach during the day and attend classes at nights and on weekends.

Majority Doesn't Always Dictate

No, the majority doesn't dictate when it comes to the rights of the minority--rights win out.  But what if it's not a matter of rights, but of preference?

Democrats pose as the champions of democracy—except when democracy doesn’t go their way. After 84% of parents in a Virginia county rejected co-ed sex education and gender ideology in schools, the taxpayer-funded school board dismissively announced that “the majority doesn’t always dictate"...

Despite being paid by taxpayer funds and thus being employees of the district’s parents, the school board has rejected poll results showing that parents in the county overwhelmingly reject gender ideology in schools and combining sex education for boys and girls from fourth grade onwards...

The county’s school superintendent, Michelle Reid, dismissed the survey’s results with the ridiculous remark: “Honestly, the majority doesn’t always dictate, right?”

Indoctrination ├╝ber alles. 

UpdateJoanne provides a little more information:

Fairfax County, Virginia surveyed the community on plans to mix boys and girls in sex-ed classes in grades starting in fourth grade, reports Nick Minock for 7News. More than 84 percent said "no," as did teachers (100 to 14) and students (60-20).

Friday, July 07, 2023

The Most Critical Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time

Remember, it's not just poor kids who deserve excellent schools:

Sixty years ago this summer, Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood before the doors of the University of Alabama to prevent two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from entering. 

Wallace had infamously declared in his inauguration speech a few months before: “Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever.” 

His symbolic last stand against racial integration ended when federal marshals escorted Malone and Hood into the school.

The stain of segregation and “separate but equal” schools was slowly coming to an end.  

Yet now, 60 years later, look who’s blocking the doors to better schools for minority kids: a new generation of modern-day Wallace Democrats who oppose school-choice programs meant to benefit low-income students, especially black and Hispanic families in districts with failing schools.  

We’ve heard a lot of indignation from liberal voices and Democratic politicians in recent days about the Supreme Court decision prohibiting racial preferences in college admissions.

But many of these same voices oppose what is arguably the most critical civil-rights issue of our time: the right of minority children to attend great elementary and high schools.

Can/Should You Be Fired If It's Not Illegal?

I go back and forth on this issue:

A teacher (assistant) struggling to make ends meet is fighting to win her job back after she was fired for making OnlyFans content, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Kristin MacDonald, 35, was let go after eight years as a teaching assistant in Canada when she received a letter from board officials issuing her termination.

“Your misconduct in this matter is egregious,” the termination letter obtained by the outlet read, including multiple reasons as to why MacDonald would be fired.

MacDonald, who said she earned $1,000 CAD every two weeks, turned to OnlyFans to help support her family and young daughter.

“It’s so far-fetched to me. It seems very petty,” the ex-teacher let out in frustration to CBC.

“I feel strongly that in this day and age, we should be able to do what we want as long as it’s not illegal,” she added. “I’m not hurting anybody.”

On one hand, her behavior isn't illegal, so what's the problem?  I'm reminded of the teacher who was threatened for having pictures of herself with a rifle on her Facebook page (yes, she won that challenge handily).  Are there other legal behaviors, unrelated to school activity, that can get teachers fired?

On the other hand, as a high school teacher I can see problems arising (pun intended) if students have seen their teachers in naked or erotic pictures.  Such pictures or similar videos break down that wall of separation that is required for the smooth running of a class.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Phones in Classrooms

I can't imagine that this needs to be a national law rather than a school or district policy, but I like the intent:

Cell phones, tablets and smartwatches will be largely banned from classrooms in the Netherlands from January 1, 2024, the Dutch government said on Tuesday, in a bid to limit distractions during lessons.

Devices will only be allowed if they are specifically needed, for instance during lessons on digital skills, for medical reasons or for people with disabilities.

“Even though mobile phones are intertwined with our lives, they do not belong in the classroom,” education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf said in a statement. 

I know there are teachers who spend class time on their phones, but I am not one of them.  In fact, when I get to school, I put my phone and other belongings in a locked cupboard and they stay there until school is out.  In that way, I set the example for what I expect of students.

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Class Action Lawsuits

Until recently I was a plaintiff in 2 class action lawsuits, the first against Yahoo! for a data breach, and the second against Qualcomm for what seems to be some monopolistic behavior.  To be honest I don't really understand the Qualcomm case, but if they violated the law, there should be a penalty for that.

Today I received my share of the settlement for the Yahoo! case--$61.08.  Not a gargantuan sum, to be sure, not one that will allow me to retire early, but not a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, either.

Maybe I can retire after the Qualcomm settlement.

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Why Don't The Brits Pronounce R's?

I don't know how scholarly this is, but it sounds good anyway:

English colonists established their first permanent settlement in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, sounding very much like their countrymen back home. By the time we had recordings of both Americans and Brits some three centuries later (the first audio recording of a human voice was made in 1860), the sounds of English as spoken in the Old World and New World were very different. We're looking at a silent gap of some 300 years, so we can't say exactly when Americans first started to sound noticeably different from the British.

As for the "why," though, one big factor in the divergence of the accents is rhotacism. The General American accent is rhotic and speakers pronounce the r in words such as hard. The BBC-type British accent is non-rhotic, and speakers don't pronounce the r, leaving hard sounding more like hahd. Before and during the American Revolution, the English, both in England and in the colonies, mostly spoke with a rhotic accent. We don't know much more about said accent, though. Various claims about the accents of the Appalachian Mountains, the Outer Banks, the Tidewater region and Virginia's Tangier Island sounding like an uncorrupted Elizabethan-era English accent have been busted as myths by linguists. 

Talk This Way

Around the turn of the 18th 19th century, not long after the revolution, non-rhotic speech took off in southern England, especially among the upper and upper-middle classes. It was a signifier of class and status. This posh accent was standardized as Received Pronunciation and taught widely by pronunciation tutors to people who wanted to learn to speak fashionably. Because the Received Pronunciation accent was regionally "neutral" and easy to understand, it spread across England and the empire through the armed forces, the civil service and, later, the BBC.

Across the pond, many former colonists also adopted and imitated Received Pronunciation to show off their status. This happened especially in the port cities that still had close trading ties with England — Boston, Richmond, Charleston, and Savannah. From the Southeastern coast, the RP sound spread through much of the South along with plantation culture and wealth.

After industrialization and the Civil War and well into the 20th century, political and economic power largely passed from the port cities and cotton regions to the manufacturing hubs of the Mid Atlantic and Midwest — New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, etc. The British elite had much less cultural and linguistic influence in these places, which were mostly populated by the Scots-Irish and other settlers from Northern Britain, and rhotic English was still spoken there. As industrialists in these cities became the self-made economic and political elites of the Industrial Era, Received Pronunciation lost its status and fizzled out in the U.S. The prevalent accent in the Rust Belt, though, got dubbed General American and spread across the states just as RP had in Britain.  

I'm not a fan of "soft" r's.  It's waw-ter, not wooah-tuh.

And how we speak in California is General American now :-)

Saturday, July 01, 2023

College Admissions

The Supremes have ruled, in the Students For Fair Admissions case, that Harvard and UNC (and probably every other school in the country except Hillsdale) used race in admissions decisions in an unconstitutional manner.  Hallelujah, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

The lefties are howling that the decision is raaaaaaaacist, that it perpetuates white supreeeeeeeeeeeemacy, and that in order to strike back at the evil white people, so-called legacy admissions at universities should be scrapped:

The next big fight over college admissions already has taken hold, and it centers on a different kind of minority group that gets a boost: children of alumni.

In the wake of a Supreme Court decision that strikes down affirmative action in admissions, colleges are coming under renewed pressure to put an end to legacy preferences — the practice of favoring applicants with family ties to alumni. Long seen as a perk for the white and wealthy, opponents say it’s no longer defensible in a world with no counterbalance in affirmative action.

It's a stupid argument, like most leftie arguments.  We didn't fight a civil war over legacy admissions.

However bad their argument, I agree with their solution.  As a taxpayer, I want public universities as well as private universities that get government money to be focused on education.  I want admissions based on merit and academic achievement.  I don't care who your parents are, I don't care if you worked at the soup kitchen, I want my tax dollars to support academic excellence.  

So I'm all for getting rid of legacy admissions, especially for marginally-qualified students.  I also support getting rid of athletic scholarships, especially for people who have no academic chance of graduating; let the major sports leagues create their own minor leagues.  Let's get our schools back in the business of educating.

Update, 7/2/23:  I think the left missed its target, as I don't think you'll find a tremendous amount of support for legacy admissions outside of those who fund or receive them.  It's not the "bullseye on the right's chest" that the left hoped it would be:

In reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that race-based affirmative action violates the Equal Protection Clause, there has been a lot of what-about-ism.

The biggest what about is college legacy and donor preferential treatment, meaning applicants who have an alumni family connection or who were related to a major donor received preference. As if those preferences somehow excuse the illegal racial preferences that permeate higher education...

Lower and middle income white students also are disadvantaged because they receive zero preference: Not race, not legacy, not donor. The legacy and donor preference may benefit wealthy whites, but they also increasing benefit wealthy college-graduate blacks and other non-white groups.

So it’s a mixed bag, and a what-about-ism that really doesn’t even answer the question of whether racial preferences are unconstitutional.

But to the extent “eliminate legacy and donor preferences” is a dare, I accept it and agree. By all means eliminate the corrupting influence of legacy and donor admissions preferences.

I'm glad we can find this common ground with our friends on the left. 

This comment on that post was 100% correct:

The court will never rule on legacy admissions because there is nothing unconstitutional about it.

If the whiners in Congress really wanted to do away with legacy admissions though they could simply pass a law that states that any college that accepts any Federal money must not have a legacy system.

But they’d rather whine about it for political points.

Update #2, 7/8/23: